Yesterday afternoon Scott and I had the opportunity to visit Nintendo Canada and get some hands-on experience with the new Nintendo 3DS, which will be out in stores on March 27th. I love my Nintendo DSLite – but I think I love the 3DS more, although the $249.99 price tag may mean some hefty saving-up in order to buy one. Scott tried out Madden Football while I stuck with one of my favourite franchise characters, Link. Those of you who are Zelda fans will not have truly experienced the game until you play it in 3D. The experience was incredible, and the new analogue pad makes game play so smooth and intuitive. The “plus pad” is still present (it’s hiding under Scott’s thumb in the photo to the right), but the analogue pad is a great addition to the device.
Along with the analogue pad, the 3DS features three exterior cameras (two facing forward, and one facing the player), a shiny telescopic stylus, SD Slot with 2gb memory card, built-in mic, six AR game cards and a wireless charging cradle. The portable game unit will initially be offered in two colours – aqua blue or cosmic black, and one new feature that many gamers are definitely going to like is that instead of needing a friend code for each individual game, the 3DS has one friend code assigned to the system itself. Nintendo has also improved the internet connectivity of the 3DS, making it more comparable to playing on a console than a portable device. The new 3DS also has the ability to play both MP3 and AAC file formats from the memory card.
The 3DS also comes with an array of pre-loaded software such as Mii Maker – which will create your 3DS Mii from a photo you take of yourself, along with support software for the dual camera as well as for AR games such as Face Raiders – which is a very fun and challenging game requiring you to actually physically move around and shot tennis balls at your floating photo. A bit disconcerting at first, but the AR games are extremely easy to catch on to. There is also the ability to make use of QR technology, but it is currently only available for Nintendo’s proprietary titles.
Also new to the 3DS are two modes known as Street Pass and Spot Pass. Street Pass is very similar to the Bark Mode seen in games like Nintendogs, whereby if you pass someone on the street who also has a 3DS, your games can engage is a quick battle – even in sleep mode – meaning that when you wake-up your 3DS, you may have won (or lost) a battle against someone else without any effort on your part. This could be a very cool way to earn rewards and items on your account.
If Spot Pass is enabled on your 3DS, whenever you enter an area where you’ve pre-configured a wifi hot-spot, Nintendo will automatically push content to your handheld – so you can easily gain access to new trailers, game content or items. This is a very effortless way to ensure that your titles and accounts are always up-to-date.
One other new feature that I particularly like is the “emergency pause” which lets you easily pause any game by simply tapping any icon on the menu screen. While this is handy for pausing the game, you can actually access the main tasks menu without losing where you are in-game, because the game picks up right where you were when you return to active game play. This does not, however, mean I would actually answer the phone if I were in the middle of a game.
The 3DS also has built-in motion-sensing abilities, a pedometre, an accelerometre and a gyro-sensor, which are used in various game functions such as the Face Raiders game mentioned above. You can also import your Mii from your Wii and alter it in whatever way you wish, but due to the 3D files, you cannot export your Mii from the 3DS to your Wii.
With the ability to set the intensity of the 3D feature, or even turn it off altogether, the 3DS did not drive my eyes buggy at all. My mind took a bit to catch-up to the new game screens, but my eyes had no problems at all with any level of 2D or 3D game play, and with the ability to turn off 3D, I can play all of my DSLite games on the 3DS. Unlike the DSLite, though, the 3DS does not have a slot for GameBoy Advance cards.
By making the 3DS dev kit available to studios earlier than what is normal for a new platform, Nintendo will be able to offer in the neighbourhood of thirty titles during the 3DS launch window, and apparently there will be some new announcements regarding the 3DS coming from Nintendo during E3.
Ubisoft announced its initial 3DS offering of eight titles last month, and included in that list is a new Splinter Cell title. This game was not on hand to play yesterday, but according to product details, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell 3D will follow Sam Fisher as he is sent behind enemy lines in the Korean Peninsula to prevent World War III. Sam will be sneaking around to find out who was responsible for sinking the USS Clarence E Walsh, the U.S.’s most advanced cruiser.
Through his investigation, Sam learns that the key parties who are planning to use the Masse Kernels and launch World War III are war comrade Douglas Shetland, Displace International, and Admiral Otomo, the Third Echelon Information Self Defense Force (I-SDF) contact. His goal will be to infiltrate their lines and expose their deeds before they manage to launch a new and deadly worldwide conflict. The cutting edge hardware of the new Nintendo 3DS allows Splinter Cell fans and all stealth/action addicts to experience an immersive 3D adventure, interacting with the game like never before.
Some of the key features that will be available in Splinter Cell 3D are:
• Immersive 3D Action: Gameplay, Cinematic, Maps, HUD, Menus, Loading screens, and more are all rendered in stereoscopic 3D.
• Optimized Controls: New button mapping with the Slide Pad and Touch Screen gives the player seamless control to equip weapons and gadgets for incredible comfort and reactivity leading to improved skill in mission executions.
• Enhanced Weapons: Sam Fisher is equipped with enhanced weapons and top-notch gadgets to infiltrate the enemy: new fusion goggles, OCP electronic disabling device, wall mine, more add-ons to SC-20K rifle, smoke and gas grenades.
• Infiltration Evolved: Lock is more intuitive than ever thanks to the new Slide Pad that mimics the realism of lock picking. Hacking has also evolved from numeric codes to solving interactive 3D puzzles.
As with the Wii, Nintendo has put some excellent parental controls in place with the 3DS – parents can control the level of 3D viewing available to younger users – or turn it off entirely, requiring a password to enable the 3D option. The parental controls also enable or deny online access as well as Street Pass and Spot Pass – but of course these controls are only as good as the level of understanding of the parents allowing their children to use the device. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – if you are a parent who allows your children to game, then it is your responsibility to understand the features and controls, as well as the game ratings. (note, that last sentence is coming from me, not the Nintendo Corporation or its representatives)